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USGA/R&A Distance Insights Project (Updated Feb. 2021)


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40 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

Do you hang out with a lot of golf fans? Have you heard of the term "bomb and gouge"? It's boring golf to watch. Seeing wedges into par 4s all day just isn't interesting and can't be related to by most golfers. I know that it isn't the tour's goal to make their product relatable to the average golfer, but it is in their interest to keep it interesting for fans. At the moment, it isn't that interesting.

What makes a pro having to hit a 4-iron farther from the hole with his approach shot so much more exciting than a pro hitting a 7-iron closer to the hole?

Tournaments are exciting based on who is playing and in contention, not the clubs they’re hitting.

Why was the Masters so good last year? Tiger. Brooks. Francesco. Finau.

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I have a few thoughts on the distance debate in golf. Except for the first, they're in no particular order. I'll try to be brief, but we all know how that tends to go… 1. I don't care about the 0

This right here, all my opinion. It's based on what I believe to be true, based on some relevant facts, and it's said with full understanding that none of us can truly know what would happen, so any o

I took the time to expand a little on my stance on distance on another forum, and thought I might post it here as well. I would say, in that vastly different scenario, that the courses should b

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54 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

Do you hang out with a lot of golf fans? Have you heard of the term "bomb and gouge"? It's boring golf to watch. Seeing wedges into par 4s all day just isn't interesting and can't be related to by most golfers. I know that it isn't the tour's goal to make their product relatable to the average golfer, but it is in their interest to keep it interesting for fans. At the moment, it isn't that interesting.

I have heard the term "bomb and gouge" but only on the golf channel, and only a few times.   The vast majority of golfers, the ones who are the real fundamental financial underpinning of the sport, want more distance, not less.   If you take even just 10% of the distance away from the average hacker out there, I would bet that hundreds of thousands of them would just give up the sport.   

It's the millions of average golfers that buy the clubs and the balls, and it's those people that the advertising on TV for PGA Tour events is aimed at, and those advertising dollars are what finances the PGA Tour.   If you hurt the average golfer, you hurt the PGA Tour.  

Is there a real problem here?  Are the TV ratings down?   Are they selling fewer tickets to PGA Tour events?   I think the answer to both those questions is no, but even it the answer is yes, is it because Dustin Johnson hits the ball too far?   Really?   

 

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5 minutes ago, Marty2019 said:

Is there a real problem here?  Are the TV ratings down?   Are they selling fewer tickets to PGA Tour events?   I think the answer to both those questions is no, but even it the answer is yes, is it because Dustin Johnson hits the ball too far?   Really?

To be fair, they listed what they saw as the problems in the summary document.

Societal pressures is the one that means the most to me.

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So when I look at the graphs again and see the little distance gain by amateurs over that same time while seeing how much money people around spend on new clubs/tech, it really makes me wonder why golfers as a whole dont spend their money more wisely? 

The golf club tech didnt instantly help them yet they still pursue clubs over lessons, when it's the lessons/coaching/etc that got the pros to where they are.

 

I do agree though with the current PGA golf being equivalent to the style of boring baseball played now. Golf is really the only sport where I either play it or played it but dont really find the tv product good.

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5 hours ago, cutchemist42 said:

So when I look at the graphs again and see the little distance gain by amateurs over that same time while seeing how much money people around spend on new clubs/tech, it really makes me wonder why golfers as a whole dont spend their money more wisely? 

The golf club tech didnt instantly help them yet they still pursue clubs over lessons, when it's the lessons/coaching/etc that got the pros to where they are.

Because to get good requires practice and most people don't have the time. I just bought a Garmin Approach G80 because it has a GPS, digital scorecard, and a fairly accurate launch monitor that also can help you groove your swing tempo. Maybe it'll help. Maybe it won't. Who knows? Since they don't have the fancy stuff at the range I take lessons, I can drop it on the mat to monitor swing tempo and smash factor when I take a lesson. 

DJ's response to the whole thing though: Too long didn't read. 🤣

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3 hours ago, DrvFrShow said:

Because to get good requires practice and most people don't have the time. I just bought a Garmin Approach G80 because it has a GPS, digital scorecard, and a fairly accurate launch monitor that also can help you groove your swing tempo. Maybe it'll help. Maybe it won't. Who knows? Since they don't have the fancy stuff at the range I take lessons, I can drop it on the mat to monitor swing tempo and smash factor when I take a lesson. 

DJ's response to the whole thing though: Too long didn't read. 🤣

Maybe I just dont get the psychology then beyond the club marketing being successful.

 

If I looked at those stats and know the club and ball wont help me, but I dont have the time to effectively practise making lessons a waste....I would simply keep the money in my pocket or use it on travel to new courses.

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1 hour ago, cutchemist42 said:

If I looked at those stats and know the club and ball wont help me, but I dont have the time to effectively practise making lessons a waste....I would simply keep the money in my pocket or use it on travel to new courses.

Not to completely dismiss your point, which has validity, but just because a club won’t give you 15 extra yards on perfect hits doesn’t mean it’s not better for you.   Newer drivers have larger, more forgiving sweet spots helping you to get more out of your lesser swings.  Not to mention that a proper fitting can help you to optimize soon and launch conditions.   These improvements, arguably, are much more beneficial to amateur golfers than total distance on perfectly struck balls.   Just sayin’.  

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I took the time to expand a little on my stance on distance on another forum, and thought I might post it here as well.

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Quote from: PPall on Yesterday at 11:03:17 PM

Say there were only 10 golf courses in all of America that have been (and will continue to be) lengthened and renovated to suit the modern game and to serve as venues for pro-level championships -- only 10, in the entire country, but all of them golden age classics, all of them the best & most indicative examples of work by the greatest architects of all time, and none of which you or I will ever play. For you: are those 10 courses worth 'preserving' in anything resembling their original form, and simply because they represent unique expressions of creative genius and are storehouses of the game's history and spirit?

I would say, in that vastly different scenario, that the courses should be preserved as such.

However, the scenario you proposed is nowhere near the 100+ year reality that we have now. The PGA Tour does not regularly play "unique expressions of creative genius" or "golden age classics." They visit TPC Scottsdale.

My perspective is that 6500 yards is enough for the vast majority of golfers. That courses that want to lengthen to cater to the tiny percentage of golfers who can play at those lengths are making decisions for themselves, and nobody's forcing them to do that. That I don't think what 0.01% of golfers can do should dictate the terms by which the rest of the golf world should abide, and before you say "bifurcation," that I'm against that as well for reasons I've shared a few times.

Quote

Quote from: PPall on Yesterday at 11:03:17 PM

And, more to the point: if preserving those courses and allowing them to continue to serve as venues for pro-level championships that 'play' in some way like they did for Hogan and Nicklaus required that the USGA bring in new rules & regulations limiting and/or rolling back equipment technology, would you think those new rules worth it?

No, because I don't really care if players hit the same clubs in as older players, because time moves on. In choosing Hogan and Nicklaus, you're setting a marker where someone else might say we should go back to hickory so players could hit the same clubs as Ouimet or Sarazen or Jones.

I don't really care if, some day, they no longer play championship golf at The Old Course, because it will still be there for the vast majority of golfers to enjoy. The ones for which the on-course back tees (not the off-course British Open tees) are still too much of a challenge. I also think that the impact of equipment is pretty much done - we have standards, and we domesticated the Pinnacle, and guys are swinging faster these days, but that's going to reach a limit, too. If you think the PGA Tour is going to turn into the WLD, watch those guys and realize how seldom they hit the ball within a 60-yard-wide area.

I also don't really care if they continue to play the Old Course and shoot -26 because the wind doesn't kick up for four days. People talk about how "par is meaningless" but then talk about how they can't stand to see people beating up some course here and there. And, I think the doom and gloom about courses hosting majors and PGA Tour stops is over-done, too. Pebble is barely 7000 yards and just hosted another great U.S. Open (albeit one in which the USGA was a bit gun-shy). Oakmont stands up to the guys.

Some of the game's best holes are the short ones. You want to reward more "skills" in the game - look at the 10th at Riviera. Look at the second at Oakmont. Those holes don't require a 4-iron approach shot, and never did. They require skill, touch, and thought. They confuse the guys.

175-225 is still a highly important yardage on Tour. It's where Tiger lived and breathed, and where the others who are now at the top of the game gain a lot of separation. So what if a guy is hitting the 15th at Augusta with a 5-iron now instead of a 5-wood or a 2-iron? The 5-iron has the loft of a 3-iron and the greens are firmer, faster, and more dangerous than they were when Nicklaus was playing it anyway.

Some people will talk about the "excitement" of watching PGA Tour golf, but I don't see that point either. Excitement comes from a few areas, including the personalities at play, the storylines, the closeness of the tournament on the back nine, the shots pulled off… etc. TV coverage shows a guy hitting a ball, the ball against the sky, and the ball landing on the green. We know for a fact that if the guy hits a 4-iron, it's going to generally finish farther from the hole than the guy who hits an 8-iron, so which is more exciting? Yes, us golf geeks can appreciate the extra skill it takes to hit a 4-iron to 30 feet than an 8-iron to 25 feet, but… so? If TV golf coverage never told you a yardage again, and added three clubs to everything the caddies flashed to the on-course reporter, would golf suddenly be more exciting because you think the guy hit a 5-iron instead of an 8-iron?

I didn't agree with all that Brandel Chamblee said, but I did with a lot of it. I think you could slow the fairways down (even doing the tapered idea that was my own twist on that), make them longer (amateurs like a little cushion anyway, and it'll reduce chemical use as well), and grow the rough at PGA Tour stops a bit longer.

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Quote from: PPall on Yesterday at 11:03:17 PM

There's no 'right' answer here: some people on this board who I'm fond of and who I often agree with I suspect would say "no"; others might surprise me and say "yes". But I think that this 'yes or no' is really one of the key drivers of our individual POVs on the broader question -- i.e. not only our views on/reaction to driving stats and our opinions on sustainability/maintenance costs etc, but also this: are a few truly great courses worth preserving as championship fields of play, simply because they are truly great?

Why can't we have new courses, like Whistling Straits, enter the fray? Why does a course we played 120 years ago have to be played today, when it can still be played by 95% of golfers?

I run an event called the Newport Cup, named after the site of the first U.S. Open. It's not long enough to support U.S. Open play anymore, but 95% of golfers can get all the challenge they need from that course, no? What's so wrong with that?

Note: These are totally my opinions, and everyone gets to have their own, of course. Nobody's "right" or "wrong" because we're not talking about facts here. I appreciate that environmental concerns and societal pressures are valid and legitimate concerns. I do not want the government deciding that golf needs heavily regulated. I wish we could go back in time* and, somehow, create a game where a long par five was 390 yards and even expansive golf courses could fit into < 100 acres, and long drivers talked about how they can occasionally hit it 200, but we can't, and history is what it was, and even Nicklaus was hitting it 341 in the 60s. That's our history. (* And even if we could craft that game in our time machine, I wonder if people wouldn't bemoan the 5,500-yard monstrosities that started to spring up as golf became a richer sport that athletes began playing more regularly…).

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Quote from: KMo on Today at 10:10:42 AM

I've walked the fairways with a bunch of juniors (as a volunteer walking scorer at AJGA events) and they are LONG. I walked with Akshat Bhatia when he was 15 and it was incredible how far he hit it. Now, he's gone from junior to pro, skipping college and in 11 rounds on Tour he's averaging 316 yard off the tee.

And how's he fared in those 11 rounds? It's not just about power. The game still requires a ton of finesse, touch, and skill. Speed is a "skill" in every sport; golf is no different there.

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Quote from: KMo on Today at 10:10:42 AM

That puts him 5th in driving distance at AGE 18!! The only players ahead of him are Cameron Champ, Grayson Murray, Ryan Brehm and Bubba Watson.

He's played six PGA Tour events. He's missed the cut in six PGA Tour events.

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Quote from: KMo on Today at 10:10:42 AM

And anyone who says today's "athletes" of golf are head and shoulders above guys like Jack needs to read this.

Nobody's said that today's golfers are better than perhaps the second-best golfer of all time, Ken. The average PGA Tour player, however, is much better now than in the 60s to 80s, though.

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Great points @iacas. No one is pining for leather helmets in NFL football or having goalies not have masks in hockey. The average tour player is just better now like in other sports. Bigger faster stronger and using technology to improve their athleticism. That is why pitchers are routinely hitting 100 when only Sandy Koufax could do it in the 60s.

I agree with the points on course tweaks. Make the fairway slower and rough more penal. Move bunkers into landing areas and make them more penal with different raking techniques. Grow the Eisenhower tree back!

There is so much they can do without changing the ball.

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1 minute ago, boogielicious said:

Great points @iacas. No one is pining for leather helmets in NFL football or having goalies not have masks in hockey. The average tour player is just better now like in other sports. Bigger faster stronger and using technology to improve their athleticism. That is why pitchers are routinely hitting 100 when only Sandy Koufax could do it in the 60s.

The equipment does help. I mean, none of us would deny that.

Here's another post I made:


Chris Solomon pointed out what a great test of golf Royal Melbourne was during the Presidents Cup. I'm sure "par" was hidden a little by match play, but I don't recall too many people blitzing the course like Phil/Sergio in their Ryder Cup, either. He pointed out that the course isn't that long, and yet because the greens were firm and the ball rolled, angles mattered, as did your precise landing spot and the way you could control spin. And we got to see a LOT of creativity from Tiger.

Maybe, and I'm paraphrasing him, the answer was to simply keep golf courses the length they were, but make them firmer (at least near the greens… but if it's firm in the fairways the ball can run into trouble, too) and make sure they have enough contour to keep the attention of the guys.

This can't work everywhere, and not everywhere is built on sand so the drainage wouldn't work everywhere. Maybe it wouldn't work anywhere except a few very specific places… which is probably the real answer, but still… I feel he made a good point. And the Presidents Cup was incredible golf to watch.

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4 hours ago, iacas said:

The equipment does help. I mean, none of us would deny that.

Here's another post I made:


Chris Solomon pointed out what a great test of golf Royal Melbourne was during the Presidents Cup. I'm sure "par" was hidden a little by match play, but I don't recall too many people blitzing the course like Phil/Sergio in their Ryder Cup, either. He pointed out that the course isn't that long, and yet because the greens were firm and the ball rolled, angles mattered, as did your precise landing spot and the way you could control spin. And we got to see a LOT of creativity from Tiger.

Maybe, and I'm paraphrasing him, the answer was to simply keep golf courses the length they were, but make them firmer (at least near the greens… but if it's firm in the fairways the ball can run into trouble, too) and make sure they have enough contour to keep the attention of the guys.

This can't work everywhere, and not everywhere is built on sand so the drainage wouldn't work everywhere. Maybe it wouldn't work anywhere except a few very specific places… which is probably the real answer, but still… I feel he made a good point. And the Presidents Cup was incredible golf to watch.

I think for the people that watched, the Presidents Cup opened a lot of eyes. Just for variety, I would not want it every week but give me a ratio that skews much more towards Melborune than it does to the mostly boring TPC courses.

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On 2/4/2020 at 10:58 AM, lastings said:

Because, while it would still be possible to bomb it the way they do today (which fans like to see), average driving distances would naturally regress as it would be much more risky to swing out of your shoes.  

Speaking of players swinging out of their shoes 😉 I could argue the guys now swing more balanced than the old-school guys. 

 

 

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Yep.  No one ever said a more spinny ball would stop players from unleashing when the situation called for it.  I mean, John Daly won two majors unleashing 100% of the time. (Also, swing himself out of countless tournaments.)

it’s just that it’s much higher risk, so players would play it safer more frequently.  
 

current balls have taken a lot of that decision making out of the game. 

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4 minutes ago, lastings said:

Yep.  No one ever said a more spinny ball would stop players from unleashing when the situation called for it.  I mean, John Daly won two majors unleashing 100% of the time. (Also, swing himself out of countless tournaments.)

it’s just that it’s much higher risk, so players would play it safer more frequently.  
 

current balls have taken a lot of that decision making out of the game. 

Except that all of those guys that @mvmac posted were all-time greats.

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On 2/8/2020 at 1:22 PM, lastings said:

it’s just that it’s much higher risk, so players would play it safer more frequently.

Why do you feel that makes golf better?

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On 2/6/2020 at 10:34 PM, lastings said:

Not to completely dismiss your point, which has validity, but just because a club won’t give you 15 extra yards on perfect hits doesn’t mean it’s not better for you.   Newer drivers have larger, more forgiving sweet spots helping you to get more out of your lesser swings.  Not to mention that a proper fitting can help you to optimize soon and launch conditions.   These improvements, arguably, are much more beneficial to amateur golfers than total distance on perfectly struck balls.   Just sayin’.  

All your post says to me is that you've bought the marketing hype! There is no such thing as a larger sweet spot. All the club manufacturers learned to do was move weight to the perimeter of the clubhead, to increase it's resistance to twisting offline on off center hits. 

On 2/8/2020 at 7:49 AM, iacas said:

The equipment does help. I mean, none of us would deny that.

Here's another post I made:


Chris Solomon pointed out what a great test of golf Royal Melbourne was during the Presidents Cup. I'm sure "par" was hidden a little by match play, but I don't recall too many people blitzing the course like Phil/Sergio in their Ryder Cup, either. He pointed out that the course isn't that long, and yet because the greens were firm and the ball rolled, angles mattered, as did your precise landing spot and the way you could control spin. And we got to see a LOT of creativity from Tiger.

Maybe, and I'm paraphrasing him, the answer was to simply keep golf courses the length they were, but make them firmer (at least near the greens… but if it's firm in the fairways the ball can run into trouble, too) and make sure they have enough contour to keep the attention of the guys.

This can't work everywhere, and not everywhere is built on sand so the drainage wouldn't work everywhere. Maybe it wouldn't work anywhere except a few very specific places… which is probably the real answer, but still… I feel he made a good point. And the Presidents Cup was incredible golf to watch.

Much the same point was made in the telecast of the Pebble Beach tourney today. The USGA/R&A distance study was brought up, and the point was made about keeping older, classic courses from obsolescence! I believe it was Faldo who pointed out that PB, playing under 7K yards, but being firm, fast, and with a wind blowing, could play damn tough! 

But I must bring up a counterpoint, being as Riviera is coming up. Back in the day Freddie Couples was by no means a short hitter. Leading the tourney, he came to 18 and blasted a really nice drive up the hill. He had to hit a 2 iron to the green! I distinctly remember the commentary. "Wow! Freddie really striped a 2 iron to the green!" If I remember correctly some guys were hitting 7 irons to that green last year! 

There is no doubt that the ball is going farther. Note that Nicklaus, Palmer, and others never griped about the clubs, they only complained about the ball! 

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13 hours ago, billchao said:

Why do you feel that makes golf better?

If it is necessary to reduce distances, as the report says, I just feel this is a better route that just introducing a limited flight ball or whatever.    A limited flight ball would disproportionately negatively affect the shorter hitters.   while moving back to a wound ball would give an advantage to the better ball strikers, and introduce more risk/reward into decision making  and hole planning.  

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  • iacas changed the title to Usga/Ra Distance Insights Project
  • iacas changed the title to USGA/R&A Distance Insights Project (Updated Feb. 2021)

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